NHL Open For Business: Team Execs Waste No Time Reaching Out To Fans
After the NHL and NHLPA reached a tentative deal on a new CBA, several team execs across the league reached out to fans and season-ticket holders, and the AP's Dan Gelston writes, "History shows the fans, dressed in team colors, standing for two anthems, will return. Likely in record numbers." Teams like the Flyers, Blues, Senators and many more e-mailed statements to ticket-holders and fans "thanking them for their patience." Blues Owner Tom Stillman said, "We know we cannot succeed without you, and we hope you will continue to support us at this critical time" (AP, 1/7). Meanwhile, THE DAILY offers a roundup of market reaction:
CALGARY: Flames President & CEO Ken King said of supporters of his team, "We regret what we've put them through. It’s just something that you would never, ever, want to put them through. It’s difficult saying that it was unnecessary, but it’s something you would never, ever want to do with your core constituents" (CALGARY HERALD, 1/7). King added, "We've had lots of communication with (fans) and I think probably, more than anything, they wanted to be heard and they continue to want to be heard and it's important that we listen" (CALGARY SUN, 1/7).
CAROLINA: Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford: "We have a challenge, publicly, with our fans, who are such a huge part of our game. We know it has been a frustrating time for them. It has been a frustrating six months for our sport. It has been a frustrating time for everybody -- for the fans, for the workers, for the players, for everyone who has been affected. We will need to put this behind us even as we recognize this has affected so many people, and try to move forward in a positive manner" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 1/7).
A HELP FOR COLUMBUS? In Columbus, Michael Arace writes of the new agreement, "Upon first glance, one might say there is little in the way of benefit for small-market teams in general and Columbus in particular." There will be "more revenue sharing but, unlike in other pro sports, it is not meaningful enough to ensure greater health from top to bottom." Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said, “Relatively speaking, lowering spending on the whole will help out the individual (franchises). One thing doesn’t change: It’s the team’s responsibility to understand what the budget is and how to adhere to it.” He added of the fans, “To those who have stuck with us, I want to thank them. To those who don’t want to come back, I want to thank them for the time they’ve shared with us, and I will do my best to try and win them back" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/7).
NASHVILLE INVESTOR'S THUMBS UP: In Nashville, Josh Cooper writes overall the deal “should benefit” the Predators. Predators investor Herb Fritch said, “Generally speaking it’s a good agreement -- especially for small teams like Nashville’s. It should help us be competitive in the long run” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/7).
DALLAS: As of yesterday afternoon, the Stars' sales staff was "back in the office calling season ticket holders and making deals." Stars President & CEO Jim Lites said that "even he's called fans to make personal pitches for season seats." Lites: "We're going to do everything we can to be relevant in this community" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/7). Lites added, "We're going to be price-sensitive. We're going to do everything we can to try to get people back and be good to our existing fans, be great to our season-ticket holders, do everything we can to say yes to them on any of their requests" (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/6).
EDMONTON: Oilers President & CEO Patrick LaForge said of a re-entry strategy, "Our real purpose is not to keep reminding people where we've been and re-showing pictures and video of the car accident. I don't think we'll have something in the ice that says 'Welcome Back Fans.' Not to downplay people's anxiety, but I think if we thought we could just wave a wand over it or play the music louder and all the memories of the lockout are gone away, I think that would be silly on our part" (EDMONTON SUN, 1/7). LaForge added that the team possibly could "give every season-ticket holder a rebate of some description to put money back in their pockets." The Oilers are working on "a concrete thank you to their fans, and trying to look ahead, not back" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/7).
SAN JOSE: Sharks Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon: "We’ve been mindful of impact this has had on our community. We’re just relieved to have it over with and moving forward. This has impacted a lot of the community in terms of downtown, people who work at the arena, our sponsors who are trying to market their product. We’re anxious to get back to our normal course of business and on the ice." He added that fewer than 100 season-ticket holders "canceled their accounts and the team is hoping to get them to rethink their plans for the future." Bordelon said of any special plans to help fans forgive the NHL for its labor transgressions, "The main thing we have to do is get back on the ice, to get playing" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 1/6).
DC: Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis issued a blog statement to fans stating, "Thanks to all of you for your patience, support and understanding during this process" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 1/6).
PHOENIX: In Phoenix, Sarah McLellan notes with the lockout over, it is "likely the NHL brass will turn its attention to resolving the Coyotes ownership saga." Prospective Owner Greg Jamison said that he plans to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "late this week or early next week to discuss the status of his bid." Jamison already has an arena-management agreement "worked out with Glendale and appears to be on track to complete the purchase by the Jan. 31 deadline" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/7).